Immigrants’ educational attainment:
a mixed picture, but often higher than the average in their country of origin

Press release Published on 13 February 2017

Authors : Mathieu Ichou, Anne Goujon and the DIPAS Survey team

Population and Societies n 541, February 2017

A common misconception concerning immigrants is that, on the whole, they are poorly educated. While this is true for some, most immigrants have attended school and are often more educated than the majority of people in their country of origin, as shown here by Mathieu Ichou, of the French Institute for Demographic Studies (INED), for immigrants living in France, and Anne Goujon, of the Vienna Institute of Demography, for refugees who arrived in Austria in 2015. 

Compared with people born in France, the educational attainment of immigrants living in France is very varied. Some groups, such as immigrants from Portugal, have relatively low average educational attainment, while Romanian immigrants have more often completed higher education than people born in France. Immigrants living in France are also more educated, on average, than the populations in their countries of origin. The same is true for refugees who arrived in Austria in 2105, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, who are much more highly educated than the general population in their home countries.